Personalised and Precision Medicine in Cancer Clinical Trials: Panacea for Progress or Pandora's Box?

M. Lawler, R. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer clinical trials have been one of the key foundations for significant advances in oncology. However, there is a clear recognition within the academic, care delivery and pharmaceutical/biotech communities that our current model of clinical trial discovery and development is no longer fit for purpose. Delivering transformative cancer care should increasingly be our mantra, rather than maintaining the status quo of, at best, the often miniscule incremental benefits that are observed with many current clinical trials. As we enter the era of precision medicine for personalised cancer care (precision and personalised medicine), it is important that we capture and utilise our greater understanding of the biology of disease to drive innovative approaches in clinical trial design and implementation that can lead to a step change in cancer care delivery. A number of advances have been practice changing (e.g. imatinib mesylate in chronic myeloid leukaemia, Herceptin in erb-B2-positive breast cancer), and increasingly we are seeing the promise of a number of newer approaches, particularly in diseases like lung cancer and melanoma. Targeting immune checkpoints has recently yielded some highly promising results. New algorithms that maximise the effectiveness of clinical trials, through for example a multi-stage, multi-arm type design are increasingly gaining traction. However, our enthusiasm for the undoubted advances that have been achieved are being tempered by a realisation that these new approaches may have significant cost implications. This article will address these competing issues, mainly from a European perspective, highlight the problems and challenges to healthcare systems and suggest potential solutions that will ensure that the cost/value rubicon is addressed in a way that allows stakeholders to work together to deliver optimal cost-effective cancer care, the benefits of which can be transferred directly to our patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-337
Number of pages9
JournalPublic health genomics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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